Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day: LA Rams Preview | Steel City Underground

Steel City Underground

Pittsburgh Steelers GameDay Preview

Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! Steel City Underground is where you come to find everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich (@MDrak_PghSN) brings you inside the huddle for both teams, providing all fans with a weekly game story, Steelers keys to success, score prediction, game information, a detailed breakdown of each team, individual stats, team stats, and team injury reports. Heck, you'll even know the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!

Defense Embraces The Challenge Of Securing Victories

The Pittsburgh Steelers, once in tatters at 1-4, have won three straight to even out their record at 4-4.

Still, even though they are just a game out of the 6th playoff spot, held by Indianapolis, whom they now own the tiebreaker against, not many NFL experts are giving Pittsburgh much of a chance to make the postseason.

One big reason of the doubters is the offense, which seems stuck in neutral, without a real identity, and a passing game in which no one is sure if its the coaches or the quarterback is to blame for... but we'll get to that in a bit.

First, the defense is playing lights out, especially since the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick. T.J. Watt is a defensive player of the year candidate, and Bud Dupree has taken his game to new heights. Cam Heyward is playing like a man possessed, and free agent pick-up Steven Nelson has been great.

Second, this defense is prepared to do what it takes to take this team over the top, offense or no offense.

“I just think we have to be catalysts for why we win,” said Heyward. “We can’t hide behind that we’ve got missing pieces on the other side of the ball. We have to be the ones responsible for getting the job done.

“I don’t think we shy away from letting the pressure be on us and being the reason why we win.”

Mason Rudolph has taken over at quarterback for Ben Roethlisberger, who injured his elbow during the first half of the Seattle game. It was a huge loss losing the future hall of fame gunslinger. No one knows the offense better than Big Ben does.

That came off the heels of losing star running back Le'Veon Bell last season, and wide receiver Antonio Brown this year. James Conner, who took over for Bell and had a Pro Bowl season, has missed action several times over the past two years, including last week, and will also miss this week's game on Sunday vs the LA Rams.

With all the key player losses and injuries, the offense, to say the least, is struggling to find it's stride.

The defense hasn't flinched.

“Ben's injury just put a little more pressure on us,” outside linebacker Bud Dupree said, “and that kind of makes the hair stand up on your arm when you know you are getting called out like that.

“We’re just trying to make as many plays as we can just for the offense. Ben is out, so we know we have to make sure we pick up the slack.”

Now, about that passing game.

Nobody, except the men in question, that being Mason Rudolph, Mike Tomlin, and Randy Fichtner, seems to understand what the hell is going on in the aerial attack.

Is it Tomlin and Fichtner who are living in their fears and refusing to let Rudolph sling the ball downfield, choosing to play conservative and safe, or is it Rudolph himself who keeps checking down, afraid to go 10-20 yards downfield, let alone a deep ball, thus making his receivers utterly useless?

"I WANT THE TRUTH!!"

Unfortunately, we don't have Lt. Daniel Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise to scream those words at the Tomlin Press Conference.

Anyway, I'm sure Tomlin would just echo the words of Col. Nathan Jessup and say, "You can't HANDLE the truth!"

Half of the season is gone. It's far past the point of where we should be knowing what type of quarterback Rudolph is capable of becoming.

Personally, I think it is the coaches holding Rudolph back, as I've seen what this kid was capable of during his time at Oklahoma State.

It's time to see what mojo he is able to bring to this offense, the sooner the better. The ability to throw downfield should open up some room in the running game, an area that the Steelers direly need to improve upon, especially when Conner returns.

“We’ve got to run the ball better on offense, particularly in the waning moments of the game,” Tomlin said at his press conference. “We weren’t able to maintain possession of the ball. I thought they won the line of scrimmage. We’ve got to be better in those areas. We’ve got to be better also at stopping the run.

“I thought, largely, Indy was able to do the things that they wanted to do, in regards to the run, and control the game in a lot of ways. Particularly with our current makeup and the things that we’re trying to get done on both sides of the ball, winning on the line of scrimmage is significant.”

As for Rudolph, if given the chance, he needs to find his groove, trust in his abilities, and step into his throws. He also better have better pocket presence, especially while in the endzone, knowing full well that defensive players will be closing in for the kill after three to four seconds have ticked off the clock, if not even faster.

Especially this week with former Pitt star and two time defensive player of the year Aaron Donald lining up across from Rudolph.

“Look at his sack reel,” Tomlin said. “He’s got sacks against right guards, left guards, left tackles. This guy moves up and down the line of scrimmage. They are thoughtful about that. It’s an effort to minimize your opportunity to get two people on him. Regardless of how much they move him, we are going to have to work to get two people on him because that is the type of player that he is.”

This will be Donald's first visit back to Heinz Field since his senior season back in 2013.

“To be back trying to play the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team I grew up watching and cheering for and playing at a field I played at in college, is definitely going to be cool,” Donald said.

Steelers Keys to Success

  1. Mason Rudolph: Mason needs to be confident and step into his throws, and by throws, we mean downfield-- to actual wide receivers. Check downs to running backs can only do so much.
  2. Jaylen Samuels: With Conner out, Samuels needs to get the ball in space where he can make plays, both running and catching the ball.
  3. Aaron Donald: Bess know where he is at all times. The offensive lie has been great in keeping Rudolph untouched, and that trend had better continue this week.
  4. Jared Goff: The defense can create some juicy turnovers by Goff if they continue to get the quarterback pressures and hits they have achieved over the past month.

Prediction

What's the hubbub, bub?

Yes, we're referring to the LA Rams whom everyone seems to be comparing to the 49ers of the early 80's. The Rams have a good team, but they aren't playing anywhere near the level they were last year.

Their defense 55 to Tampa, 30 to Seattle, and 20 to San Francisco before giving up a combined 20 points vs the Falcons and Bengals the last two games.

If the Steeler coaches would allow Mason Rudolph to throw the ball more than three yards at a time, perhaps this offense could start generating more points. It's also well past the time to establish some sort of rushing attack, an area that the Rams can be had at, if said offense is persistent enough. Seattle gained 167 yards on the ground.

It would behoove the Steelers to move Juju Smith-Schuster around, perhaps into the slot where he can make some plays, and make it harder for corner Jalen Ramsey to cover him.

If the offense can put up a few touchdowns in this game, the defense is more than capable of keeping the Jared Goff lead offense under wraps, especially with RB Todd Gurley looking like a shell of his former self, and talented WR Brandin Cooks out with a concussion. Obviously keeping Cooper Kupp under control is a must.

“I think we are one of the league’s best defenses,” rookie linebacker Devin Bush said.

This Sunday, they will have the chance to prove those words correct.

Steelers 20 LA Rams 17

Game Information

  • Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • Field: Natural Grass
  • Game-time: Sunday, November 10th, at 4:25 pm ET
  • TV: FOX (Local on WPGH-TV)
  • Announcers: Chris Myers  (play-by-play) Daryl Johnston (analyst) Laura Okmin (reporter)
  • Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE & WBGG 970 AM
  • Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) Craig Wolfley (sideline) Missi Matthews (sideline)
  • Internet Broadcast: Steelers Nation Radio (SNR) on Steelers.com
  • Weather at Kickoff: Partly Cloudy. 50 with winds 5-10 mph WSW.
  • Vegas Line: LA Rams -3.5

Pittsburgh Steelers vs LA Rams History

(The Rams have been home to Cleveland, St. Louis, & LA.)

  • Series History: Began in 1938
  • Steelers are 9-15-2 overall vs Rams
  • At Home: 6-6-1
  • On Road: 2-9-1
  • Post-Season: 1-0
  • Streak: Steelers won the last three meetings.
  • Last Regular Season Meeting: Steelers Win, 12-6 (Sept. 27, 2015)
  • Last Post-Season Meeting: Steelers Win, 31-19 (Jan. 20, 1980 - Super Bowl XIV)

Scouting the Pittsburgh Steelers

Quarterbacks

Mason Rudolph*

The 2nd year gunslinger out of Oklahoma State takes over for the injured Ben Roethlisberger. Is slowly but surely improving and gaining confidence by the week.

  • Passing Yards: 1,088
  • TD Passes: 10
  • Interceptions: 4
  • Sacks: 6
  • Yards Rushing: 24
  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Devlin Hodges

The former Samford quarterback showed no fear when he was forced into action vs the Ravens. Did well in first NFL start vs Chargers.

  • Passing Yards: 200
  • TD Passes: 1
  • Interceptions: 1
  • Sacks: 0
  • Yards Rushing: 28
  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Ben Roethlisberger (Injured)

  • Out for the season with an elbow injury.
  • Passing Yards: 351
  • TD Passes: 0
  • Interceptions: 1
  • Sacks: 2
  • Yards Rushing: 7
  • Rushing TD’s: 0

Running Backs

James Conner (Injured)

Conner has picked it up big time the past two games, but may be out with a shoulder injury.

Yards Rushing: 380

  • Rushing TD’s: 4

Receptions: 29

  • Yards Receiving: 236
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Jaylen Samuels*

Dynamic player who can play several positions. Dangerous as a pass-catcher out of the backfield. Takes the keys to the offense with Conner likely out.

  • Yards Rushing: 60
  • Rushing TD’s: 1
  • Receptions: 26
  • Yards Receiving: 159
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Benny Snell, Jr. (Injured)

  • Yards Rushing: 118
  • Rushing TD’s: 0
  • Receptions: 1
  • Yards Receiving: 14
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Trey Edmunds

Edmunds will serve as Samuel’s back-up if Conner can’t suit up.

  • Yards Rushing: 73
  • Rushing TD’s: 0
  • Receptions: 0
  • Yards Receiving: 0
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Roosevelt Nix (Fullback) 

  • Yards Rushing: 0
  • Rushing TD’s: 0
  • Receptions: 2
  • Yards Receiving: 4
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Wide Receivers

Juju Smith-Schuster*

Smith-Schuster is set to prove he is a true No.1 receiver for the Steelers, but now has two fumbles that have cost the team two probable wins.

  • Receptions: 33
  • Receiving Yards: 459
  • Receiving TD’s: 3

Diontae Johnson*

Talented rookie who makes the most of every reception. Blessed with wicked moves in open space.

  • Receptions: 26
  • Receiving Yards: 299
  • Receiving TD’s: 3

James Washington 

He was ready to have a breakout season and establish himself as a big-time playmaker in the NFL. So far, not going anywhere as expected.

  • Receptions: 14
  • Receiving Yards: 230
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Ryan Switzer

Sparingly used with Big Ben out. Will return punts and kicks.

  • Receptions: 8
  • Receiving Yards: 27
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Johnny Holton

Steelers deep threat, but has yet to record a catch.

  • Receptions: 0
  • Receiving Yards: 0
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Tight Ends

Vance McDonald*

The Vanimal, when unleashed, is a sight to see. He could be a major part of offense if utilized correctly and if he stays healthy.

  • Receptions: 22
  • Receiving Yards: 176
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Nate Vannett

The Ohio State product was acquired from the Seahawks earlier this season.

  • Receptions: 4
  • Receiving Yards: 48
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

*Denotes Starter

Offensive Line

Defense (Base 3-4)

Placekicker

Chris Boswell

  • Extra Points: 17-17
  • FG: 17-18
  • 0-19: 1-1 / 20-29:  6-6 / 30-39: 3-3 / 40-49:  6-6 / 50+:  1-2
  • Long: 49

Punter

Jordan Berry

  • Yards per Punt: 47.1

Kickoff Returners

Ryan Switzer

  • Yards per Kickoff Return: 18.3
  • Return TD’s: 0

Johnny Holton

  • Yards per Kickoff Return: 18.3
  • Return TD’s: 0

Punt Returner

Ryan Switzer

  • Yards per Kickoff Return: 4.3
  • Return TD’s: 0

Scouting the LA Rams

  • Overall Record: 5-3
  • Head Coach: Sean McVay (3rd Season with Rams)
  • Overall Regular Season Record: 29-11 / 29-11 with Rams
  • Playoff Record: 2-2 (Qualified for playoffs 2 times)
  • 2019 LA Rams Team Roster
  • LA Rams Team Statistics
  • Last Game: Rams 24 Bengals 10

Quarterbacks

Jared Goff*

Goff has regressed this year and can be forced into bad throws under pressure. Has been sacked 12 times.

  • Passing Yards: 2,367
  • TD Passes: 11
  • Interceptions: 7
  • Sacks: 12
  • Yards Rushing: 16
  • Rushing TD’s: 2

Running Backs

Todd Gurley*

Gurley is not the elite runner he used to be. He is still capable, but just not consistent enough anymore.

  • Yards Rushing: 355
  • Rushing TD’s: 6
  • Receptions: 15
  • Yards Receiving: 81
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

Malcolm Brown

  • Yards Rushing: 154
  • Rushing TD’s: 2
  • Receptions: 1
  • Yards Receiving: 21
  • Receiving TD’s: 10

Darrell Henderson, Jr.

  • Yards Rushing: 119
  • Rushing TD’s: 0
  • Receptions: 4
  • Yards Receiving: 37
  • Receiving TD’s: 0

Wide Receivers

Cooper Kupp* 

Kupp has become one of the best in the game, especially when healthy.

  • Receptions: 58
  • Receiving Yards: 792
  • Receiving TD’s: 5

Robert Woods*

Woods has talent, but like Gurley, has been up and down all year.

  • Receptions: 38
  • Receiving Yards: 471
  • Receiving TD’s: 3

Brandin Cooks (Injured)

  • Receptions: 27
  • Receiving Yards: 402
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

Josh Reynolds

  • Receptions: 5
  • Receiving Yards: 107
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

Tight Ends

Gerald Everett*

The Rams top choice at TE.

  • Receptions: 26
  • Receiving Yards: 297
  • Receiving TD’s: 2

Tyler Higbee

  • Receptions: 18
  • Receiving Yards: 170
  • Receiving TD’s: 1

*Denotes Starter

Defense (Base 4-3)

The Rams have Aaron Donald on the defensive line and Jalen Ramsey in the secondary. Not a bad pair to have handy.

Placekicker

Greg Zuerlein

  • Extra Points: 22-22
  • FG: 16-20
  • 0-19: 0-0 / 20-29: 6-6 / 30-39: 3-3 / 40-49: 3-7 / 50+: 4-4
  • Long: 58

Injury Report (11/9/19)

Pittsburgh

  • Out: RB Benny Snell Jr. (Knee), RB James Conner (Shoulder), FB Roosevelt Nix (Knee), OL Ramon Foster (Concussion)
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Foot)

LA Rams

  • Out: WR Brandin Cooks (Concussion), LB Bryce Hager (Shoulder)
  • Doubtful: None
  • Questionable: WR JoJo Natson (Illness)

Offensive Stats

Total yards per game 

  • Pittsburgh: 297.6
  • LA Rams: 396

Passing yards per game

  • Pittsburgh: 209.3
  • LA Rams: 298.8

Rushing yards per game

  • Pittsburgh: 88.4
  • LA Rams: 97.3

Points per game

  • Pittsburgh: 22
  • LA Rams: 26.8

Defensive Stats

Total Yards per game allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 335.5
  • LA Rams: 338.3

Passing Yards per game allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 228
  • LA Rams: 208.7

Rushing Yards per game allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 107.5
  • LA Rams: 96.9

Points Allowed

  • Pittsburgh: 21.1
  • LA Rams: 21.8

Sacks

  • Pittsburgh: 29
  • LA Rams: 23

Interceptions

  • Pittsburgh: 11
  • LA Rams: 6

Fumbles Recovered

  • Pittsburgh: 8
  • LA Rams: 9




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